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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Acts 3

 

 

Verses 1-26

Acts 3:1. Peter and John went into the temple at the hour of prayer. Some read, At the same time Peter and John went into the temple, intimating that this was the afternoon of the day of pentecost. Others conjecture that this miracle was wrought two or three days after the conversion of the three thousand, which is obviously supported by Acts 2:41. The same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. Hence the five thousand, mentioned in Acts 4:4, may include the three thousand, or it may, as is mostly understood, be an addition, making eight thousand in all. — The hour of prayer occurred three times a day; morning, afternoon, and evening, which is here called the ninth hour. This threefold act of public worship is said by the ancient rabbins to be of patriarchal institution. So Dr. Lightfoot.

Acts 3:2. A certain man, lame from his mother’s womb, and now, according to Acts 4:22, above forty six years of age, was carried and laid daily at the gate which is called beautiful, to ask alms. There were ten gates which led to the courts of the temple, but this was the gate at which the major part of the people entered; and was built by Herod, who in a long course of years replaced the stones of the temple. Josephus, in his wars of the jews, Acts 7:12, calls it the Corinthian gate, because it was made of brass of very exquisite workmanship, and took twenty men every night to shut it. See on Zechariah 11:1.

In the palace of Hampton court are the cartoons of Raphael, which exhibit seven of the more remarkable occurrences of the new testament. The painter has been singularly successful in the selection of the beggar’s face. The chin prominent, the features strong, the aspects hungry. The canvass is about twelve feet long, and nine broad. Certainly such paintings in ancient churches very much edified the people, and contributed to the belief of the scripture history.

Acts 3:6. Silver and gold have I none. Peter was so absorbed in the glory of his Master’s work, that he left the funds of the church to others. Little did he then think that his pretended successor at Rome would take both heaven and earth into his own power. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. How appropriate are both these names. “Nazareth,” the town on account of which Christ was despised and rejected. “Jesus,” the Saviour, the name given here to designate his power, majesty, and kingdom; for the names of deity in all places indicate his perfections.

Acts 3:8. And he, leaping up, stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple. The effects on the lame man were the accomplishment of Isaiah’s words. “Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing.” The effects on the people were, that if the name of Jesus could restore a man lame and distorted from his birth, he must be the living Word, whom the Father possessed in his own bosom. Proverbs 8:22. And who said in the creation, Let there be light, and there was light. If he could restore perverted nature from forms so distorted, then he must be the Messiah of whom the prophet had spoken. “I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and will save them by Jehovah their God; and will not save them by the bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, nor by horses, nor by horsemen.” Hosea 1:7. God does not say, I will save them by myself, but by the Saviour, by Jehovah their God; not by the might and power of war, but by my Spirit saith the Lord of hosts. The people understanding this, rushed into the church, at all hazards with the synagogue, an army of five thousand men.

Acts 3:12. Why look ye so earnestly on us? He turned their eyes, then almost committing idolatry, to see the glory of the Holy and the Just One, whom they had recently denied, “and killed the prince of life.” Many of the murderers were before him; they heard his bold impeachments, and like culprits stood speechless at the bar. But on the contrite a greater miracle was wrought, in the conversion of five thousand souls, than had been effected on the lame man.

Acts 3:13. The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus. St. Peter, now preaching to learned jews, uses Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 9:6 : παιδα, child, and the holy child Jesus. This Greek word, which Isaiah joins with a child born, and a son given, is in perfect coincidence with his frequent appellation in other places, as in Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 53:11 : עבדיobadi, my servant. The Latin versions are not incorrect, when they read Filium suum Jesum, his Son Jesus, because the word designates in the running language of the prophets his descent from the Father.

Acts 3:17. And now brethren I wot (I know) that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. The excuse for the rulers is less cogent than that for the people. Our Lord had by his miracles, by his disputations and doctrines, afforded incontrovertible evidence of the divinity of his mission, and had put all his adversaries to silence, He had charged it especially upon the scribes and elders that their ignorance was wilful, the effect of enmity and unbelief, and that they were emphatically the children of the wicked one. He had said, and had given indubitable proof, that he came forth from the Father; that he did whatsoever the Father did; that as the Father knew the Son, so the Son knew the Father, and that he and the Father were one. And while he spake those words, many believed on him, while others were the more blinded by the enmity and corruption of their own hearts. But with respect to the generality of the people, they had been misled and prejudiced by their rulers, and had sinned through ignorance and misconception. Among the rulers themselves there were also some, for whom the apostle, in his great candour, offers a similar plea of extenuation.

Acts 3:19. When the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. The same phrase is read subjunctively in Acts 15:17 : “that the residue of men might seek after the Lord.” Then the sense flows harmoniously, That the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. God will water a contrite people with showers of his grace, as he waters the parched earth with rain.

Acts 3:21. The times of restitution of all things. Peter evidently alludes here to our Saviour’s words, when he said, it is not for you to know the times and the seasons: Acts 1:7. God has reconciled the world and all things unto himself by Christ Jesus; yet the future generations of men, unborn at his death, must suffer and die. Therefore death is the last enemy that shall be destroyed; and there must be times of restitution or restoration of all things. Romans 8:19-22 may be understood in this sense, as is illustrated in the general reflections at the close of Isaiah, in Ezekiel 39., and in the last chapters of the Revelation.

Acts 3:22. A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you — like unto me. After Peter had declared the exaltation of Christ, he most wisely associates his ministry with that of Moses, and all the holy seers, who have declared that Christ should be an eminent prophet, and a preacher of righteousness. Deuteronomy 18:15. Isaiah 63:2. Especially that he should teach the doctrine of the new covenant to the gentiles, and that the isles should wait for his law. The apostle associates Samuel as the father of the prophets, on the establishment of the kingdom of Israel. He calls his auditory the children of the prophets; for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were seers, and holy men around the altars of their God. Thus he united his ministry with the full strength of the Hebrew prophets, and providence warded off the gathering storm from the priests and sadducees, who did not interrupt him till he had, as it would seem, sufficiently closed his address.

REFLECTIONS.

The glory of the Pentecost was not transient; it was the christian shekinah resting for ever on the church. The healing of this impotent man was a most signal miracle, and the firstfruit that followed the day. He was lame from his birth, and generally known, being a notable beggar at the temple gate. His restoration was effectuated in the middle of the afternoon, and amid the crowd of sober, decent, and intelligent people going to worship. The cure was so notorious, and the whole case so clear, that no man attempted to controvert it. In every view it was a godlike display of celestial power. The conversion of thousands which followed was a farther attestation of its truth, and a correspondent lustre to its glory. Let us improve it with regard to ourselves.

The holy apostles, after the example of their Master, paid attention to the poor, the lame, and the sick, even when they had no money to cover their nakedness, or to relieve their hunger. It is a blessed work in all ministers to do the same: and if they have no money, let them give such as they have.

This impotent man, as is remarked in John 5., may remind every sinner of his lame condition by birth. He is halt, and blind, and poor; an object of pity in the eyes of God, and of all good men.

It was a singular happiness that this man was found that day at the temple gate, and that he had not stayed at home through some slight excuse. Let sinners be instructed by his example. It is their duty to be found in the house of God, using the means to attain the end.

He was desired to look on the apostles. This raised a confident expectation of alms, and I know not what besides, for men in their distributions do not address beggars in this way. So the sinner must look to the Saviour, and with expectations large as the promises.

The impotent man received more than he expected. Perfect soundness was given to his weak and withered limbs. Beauty, proportion, and strength were communicated to his crooked and distorted joints. He walked and leaped in the temple, and attended the council with the apostles the ensuing day. What a striking portrait of converting grace. See that penitent sinner bowed down with a sight and sense of his sins. Mark his silence and his sighs. He secretly groans for redemption through the blood of Christ, and deliverance from the spirit of bondage. By and bye, having opened all his anguish in the ears of heaven, mercy smiles from her frowning clouds, and the love of God is shed abroad in his heart. Then his whole soul, enlarged by the comforts of grace, glorifies God in the church, as the impotent man in the temple.

He was healed by the name of Jesus, that name which had been traduced and slandered as the worst of names. Jesus had been classed with Samaritans, devils, and malefactors. Now, his name was magnified above every name, and his enemies trembled at his power. Guilt whispered that his blood would be visited on their heads. Oh how glorious and energetic is that name in the eyes of awakened sinners. It is life from the dead, it takes away all their sin, it bursts all their bonds, it scatters all their foes, and raises them to participate of all the privileges and glory of their Lord. So now at the gate of the temple, the impotent man was healed; the apostles transferred the reverence of the multitude to their Master, they published the glory of his truth, and thousands were converted by the virtues of his name. — Oh Jesus, let thy name to my poor fainting soul be repeated with all its charms, and make me every whit whole by the sanctifying power of love.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Acts 3:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/acts-3.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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